Operating Budget Approved
In late April, Council approved the 2001 Operating Budget for the new City. A $30 million surplus from the 2000 RMOC budget (reduction in the social service caseload) and considerable savings from expenditures estimated by the Transition Board allowed increased support for grants to social service agencies, libraries and arts for the coming year.
OC Transpo fares will be increased in July to assist in improving and increasing transit service (the impact on ridership is negligible - after the last increase in '99, ridership continued to grow beyond projections). The cost of providing transit service has risen at a rate considerably in excess of inflation in the last 18 months - totaling more than $6.4 million. For example, fuel prices have increased by 16% since January 2000, adding $3.6 million to transit operations.
Pending Capital Budget consideration in mid-May, residents should be able to expect a tax freeze this year.
Property Assessment & Tax Reform
The current provincial property tax assessment system, based on current market values (1999), is generating significant property tax increases for over 18% of homeowners in the city despite no increase in the city's mill rate. Next year, when the provincial assessment system goes to an annual basis, taxes will likely rise again because housing prices went up over 16% in 2000. A task force has been established to examine property assessment and tax issues. Further, Council has asked the provincial government to review the appropriate role of property taxes in funding local services and provincially-mandated social services, such as welfare, social housing and child care.
Cryptosporidium - Can it Happen Here?
As a result of the current problems in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, the public is concerned about this microscopic parasite that can be found in water. When ingested, it germinates, reproduces and causes illness - even death in immuno-compromised people.
Residents can be assured that the City (formerly the Region) has taken the initiative to routinely test both the source of our drinking water - the Ottawa River - and the treated water for Cryptosporidium (even though monitoring is not required under current regulations). Levels of Cryptosporidium in the river are consistently low and the organism has NEVER been detected in the treated water. The city operates a “multiple barrier” treatment process that is very effective in removing Cryptosporidium parasites, eliminating 99.9999 percent of the Cryptosporidium cysts entering the plant. This level of performance is one of the highest in North America.
100% Smoke Free By-law Approved Unanimously
All 22 members of Council voted in favour of 100% smoke-free by-laws for public places and workplaces with no allowances for designated smoking rooms. This includes establishments such as restaurants, bars, pubs, bingo halls, bowling alleys, billiard halls as well as taxis and limousines. An amendment was also approved to direct staff to monitor and report on the concerns of charitable and non-profit organizations.
City staff is now preparing an extensive public awareness and business information campaign and are committed to working with the business community to ensure a smooth transition.
OC Transpo Update
1. In March 2001, ridership continued its long and steady climb with a year-over-year increase of 7.7% for the month.
2. This is the 3rd year for the “Rack and Roll” service, where 200 buses (designated for routes 2, 95 and 97) have had bike racks installed on the front to offer customers the environmentally friendly travel option of combining cycling with a bus ride. Hundreds of popular cycling destinations are now available to cyclists in the east, west and south of the city that might normally have been out of range. More information on the Rack and Roll program is available by calling 741-4390, or by visiting http://www.octranspo.com.
Widening Riverside Drive (South of Hunt Club Road)
In June 2000 the City of Ottawa initiated a study to determine the future roadway needs in Gloucester South - and an Open House was held to present the study area features, existing conditions and need for additional transportation infrastructure. Since then, staff has developed different alternatives and determined their effects on the social, natural, land use and transportation environments - arriving at a technically preferred solution.
A public meeting has been scheduled for May 31st at the Rideauview Community Centre in Riverside South ,4310 Shoreline Drive, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (presentation at 7 p.m.) to comment on the preferred design solution, review the process, and understand the effects of the preferred solution and proposed mitigation measures.
Compost Available at Trail Road Landfill
EcoGrow Compost is produced from Ottawa's leaf and yard waste collection program, and is an excellent natural conditioner that will enhance the quality of soil.
You can load up on compost any day of the week at the landfill site for just $5 per car load, or $15 per pickup truck or trailer. Anyone wanting to purchase large quantities can make arrangements with a private hauler for the pickup and delivery of compost at $10 per tonne plus delivery charges. For more information call 580-2400 or visit http://www.city.ottawa.on.ca.
Deer Warning on Local Highways
Motorists in the Ottawa area are advised to be extra cautious, especially at dawn and dusk this spring and early summer, to avoid accidents involving white-tailed deer. A 2000 study concluded that deer populations in this region are rising because of mild winters, a decline in hunting and natural predators, and improved habitat. Development pressures have resulted in more infrastructure and people occupying deer habitat, so it's no wonder that more conflict with deer is occurring. Statistics indicate that the number of deer injured or killed by vehicles in the Ottawa area is doubling every four years.
The Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre reports that the number of orphaned and injured animals at their complex was 20% higher than in 1999 - many displaced by new development. Ottawa had the biggest increase in housing construction starts of any major city in the country last year with the building of almost six thousand new homes.
Water System Rehabilitation on Melfa/Minaki/POW
Construction to replace existing substandard watermains and services within the road right-of-way is scheduled to begin on May 7, 2001. This project was deferred last fall due to time constraints. The areas affected are Prince of Wales from Normandy Crescent to Nesbitt, Melfa Circle, Melfa Crescent from the northern to southern intersection with POW and Minaki Avenue. Completion date is August 24th.
Para Transpo Strike Update
Due to the protracted nature of the Para Transpo Strike, our policy has been adjusted in order to assist eligible clients with transportation costs related to non-essential activities, such as participation in Day Programs, recreational or social programs, which had been part of their routines, prior to the strike. Expenses related to these activities will be reimbursed to cover the actual cost of one round trip per week.
This expanded eligibility criteria is not meant in any way to influence the legitimate labour relations processes that are currently underway between the Amalgamated Transit Union and its service provider, Laidlaw.
Water Quality at Mooney's Bay Beach
During the wet summer of 2000, the water quality at Mooney's Bay Beach exceeded the provincial standard of 100 E. coli/100 ml of water on 12 separate occasions, compared to once in 1999. The beach was posted with warnings for a total of 3 days.
This summer, Mooney's Bay water will continue to be monitored, 5 days a week, with five different samples taken daily. The posting of a notice advising against swimming is considered when the daily geometric mean of the 5 samples exceeds the provincial standard.
Pesticide Policy for New City
While a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management Policy for the city is being developed by staff, the policy of the former Regional government is being adopted to regulate the use of pesticides and other chemicals on city-owned property.
This means that the city will discontinue the use of herbicides on outdoor property it owns or rents except for noxious weeds (i.e. poison ivy) which cannot reasonably be destroyed by non-chemical means. Use of chemical pesticides will be limited to cases where there is a serious health risk to humans and animals or in cases where the survival of trees or shrubs is threatened. Appropriate steps, including public notification, will be taken to ensure that exposure will be minimized. In no case will aesthetic considerations be deemed sufficient to warrant the use of chemical pesticides.
It is imperative that proper cultural methods, such as composting, aerification, over-seeding, irrigation and proper mowing heights to suppress week growth and maintain healthy turf grass be increased, particularly on sports fields.
A full public consultation is planned for the development of the permanent policy recommendations, which will include consideration of the costs and benefits of pesticide use and their impact on city operations.
River Ward Roadways to be Resurfaced in 2001
The resurfacing program prioritizes roadways that need repaving on an annual basis to ensure that these works are undertaken before damage is done to the sub-structure of the roadway. Scheduled for the 2001 season are: Bellevue, from Laperriere to dead end; Derby, from Shillington to Emperor; Dover, from Merivale to the cul-de-sac; Fisher, from Baseline to Carling; Lampman, from Maryland to dead end; Laperriere, from Kirkwood to Clyde; Maryland, from Prince of Wales to dead end; Morisset, from Caldwell- 160m East; Prince of Wales Drive, 100 m south of Normandy Cr. South to 100 m north of Melfa Cr. North.
Forest Renewal Program 2001
I am pleased to report that several former Regional programs have been picked up by the new city of Ottawa under the Forest Renewal Program. A city-wide street tree planting program will expand the scope of existing tree programs in the former municipalities. Staff will plant 50 mm (2") street trees (on city property) in partnership with residents whose properties meet the criteria to establish and sustain a healthy tree, and who agree to care for it for a period of 2 years. Eight hundred trees will be offered soon on a first-come, first-served basis - through a promotion campaign distributed through local newspapers (planting fall of 2001).
The city has also established programs with schools and community associations to implement small self-directed tree planting projects, with funding assistance available up to $2000. “Green Acres” is a subsidy program targeted at reforesting the rural areas of the City under a cost-sharing agreement. The “Ice Storm Assistance Program” is another program, initiated by the province, that provides up to 75% of the funding towards remnant ice storm cleanup and replacement tree planting until 2003.
Dog License Renewals Now Online
One of the first on-line services provided by the new city is the ability to renew dog licenses online through the web portal at http://www.city.ottawa.on.ca. This is part of an overall strategy to provide residents with access to city services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Citizens are taking advantage of the easier, convenient method - in the first few weeks of service, hundreds of licenses were renewed online.
Other on-line e-government programs include: paying parking tickets, booking ice time at arenas, registering for sports programs and buying maps and other merchandise from the city's on-line store. Can a ‘virtual councillor' be next!?
Fish Habitat Creation
The city is working with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and other partners on a plan to create new fish habitat in the urban Rideau River. Much natural habitat has been lost over the years as residents cleaned up, filled in, and straightened out their shorelines. A fish embayment project is in the works for the Brewer Park area of Ottawa South. A new shallow pond connected to the river will provide new spawning, feeding and rearing habitat for fish - particularly yellow perch which is a major food source for other species.
Hats off to the RVCA - which is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this spring - for its part in another worthwhile project.
River Ward Development Proposals - May 2001
1. Moffatt Farm: Prince of Wales at Falaise; DCR Phoenix has submitted Official Plan (OP), Zoning Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision applications to the City. A formal circulation and consultation process is now underway, and a public information meeting has been set for June 20th at 8 p.m. at the Carleton Heights Community Centre on Apeldoorn. Decision not expected until September.
2. Bank Street Home Depot: NCC and Hydro corridor land west of Bank Street near the Ledbury turn-off; Home Depot has submitted applications to the City that are being reviewed by staff, before being circulated for public comment.
3. 1241 Clyde Ave. (former DOC lands east of Clyde and Maitland): current status - Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings has submitted a site plan to the City proposing 112 street townhouses, 42 townhouses on a private street and six semi-detached units. Comments can be submitted to planner Patrick Legault by May 28.
4. 300 Central Park Dr. (fronting Merivale Road) Ashcroft-Clyde Avenue Holdings has submitted a Zoning Amendment Application and Site Plan Control Proposal to the City for this site, which fronts Merivale Road. The proposal is to rezone two high density residential zones and a leisure linkage zone that surround an existing employment centre zone, to a single new employment centre zoning. The site plan proposal would encompass all of the new employment centre zone and would allow the construction of a high-rise apartment tower, an office building and three freestanding retail/restaurant uses. A three-storey parking structure would link the apartment building and office building. The rezoning proposal will likely go to planning committee in June.
5. 1280 Merivale Rd. (Central Park near Caldwell): A Site Plan Control Proposal has been submitted to the City suggesting 113 townhomes with private roads for this 1.8-hectare site. Staff is not prepared to support the plan as it has been proposed, and the developer has not yet submitted revisions.
6. 110 Central Park Dr. (next to park) Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings has submitted a site plan proposing two 10-storey apartment towers and one four-storey retirement building for this site. Combined, there would be a total of 224 units, with a 144-space underground parking garage and 102 above-ground parking spaces. The site is presently zoned for medium and high density residential uses.
7. 1057 Merivale Road (south of Shillington) - The applicant is proposing to demolish a repair garage and convenience store and replace the structures with a four-storey, 36-unit rooming house. The proposal includes 26 parking spaces. Staff has a few outstanding concerns that the applicant must resolve before the proposal is either approved or denied.
8. 1132 Merivale Road: (vacant lot at the corner of Merivale and Mayview Avenue;) current status - Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation has applied to build 13 two, three and four-bedroom townhouses and stacked townhouse rental units. No re-zoning is required. This project will receive funding from the Homelessness Initiatives Fund.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have questions, or comments, or would like more information on these, or any other items before City Council.